Having an orphaned pup at such a young age can be challenging yet rewarding. When they are too young to be separated from their mother, they will be too vulnerable to survive by themselves. To save the young puppy, we should act as its mother until it reaches the age of 6 to 8 weeks old.
Important tips to take care of a puppy without its mother will provide you with some guidance on how to assume a role as its mother and help the pup survived.
You should take the pup early to a vet for its health treatment, ensure its comfort with a warm and safe nest. You have to take care the pup patiently throughout the day just like its mother treating her pups. Without the mother, they have high risk of having hypothermia, dehydration, hypoglycemia and other medical problem. Hence pay extra attention to their condition.
1. Caring for the puppies
When we decide to adopt a newborn pup or we happen to have a litter of pups without their mother, spend your time in take extra care during their initial age. They really need us to survive.
- Vet visit
Schedule the appointments with the vet and get some information and what kind of treatments we should do to the pup.
- Weight control
This is very needed to inform whether we feed them enough or not. Scale them on daily basis during the first two weeks. After that once a week weight control will be enough. Their weight will be doubled from their birth weight when they reach 8 or 10 days old.
A pup needs your constant attention. You should check whether the temperature or humidity is set properly, whether there are some health issues occurred or whether it’s time for feeding and massaging. By checking on them often, you will understand about their needs and you can take action immediately as needed.
Very young pups are very vulnerable and they are very susceptible to viruses from other animals. Therefore, you need to isolate them to prevent any contacts with others. They can start to have contacts with others when they are 5 weeks old.
2. Safe environment
It’s a priority to keep the pup warm. They get the warmth from swaddling each other and get their mother’s body warm. Since they are orphaned, then you can warm their nesting box by having a heating lamp or a bottle of warm bottle inside the nest. Keep the temperature around 90 degree Fahrenheit or 32 degree Celsius for the newborn and you may lower it to 70 degree Fahrenheit until around 5 to 6 weeks. Once they reach that age, they can handle room temperature by themselves. However, you still need to give them towel or blanket so they can snuggle. Do not put their nesting box near windows or Air Conditioner.
- Clean nesting box
To ensure the cleanliness and the dryness of their bed, it might be better to put towel or newspaper at the bottom so it’s easy to change it when they soil on it. It is also important to make the nesting box high enough at the sides so they won’t fall or climb out. The size should be wide enough for them to turn around.
- Create feeding schedule
You will need to feed the pups every three hours. Or every 2 hours if they are in a weak condition or a low eight. Write down to make the schedule of set the alarms to remind you of the feeding time. They will start to cry when they are hungry.
- Tube or Bottle feeding
You might want to consider whether to feed them milk with tube/syringe or bottle. There are certain condition before you take your decision.
It’s a lot easier for you to feed using bottle but it takes longer time. However, it is very safe for people who don’t have experience taking care or young or newborn puppy.
Tube feeding takes less time but it will be harmful if you don’t do it properly. You might cause respiratory problem if you do it wrongly. This method is perfect for pups with weak condition, inability to latch or with cleft palate. it’s better to consult with your vet how to feed the pups using this method before you do it by yourself.
- Milk substitute for puppies
It’s not a good choice to give cow milk to pups. They need nutrient similar milk to their mother’s milk. You can purchase this milk in a pet store. Warm the milk before feeding the pups.
Burping is a way to let the air out from their stomach which can happen during their feeding time. The air in the stomach can cause them stomach pain. To prevent this illness, burp the pups every time you finish feeding them.
There are two ways to make them burp. Either you rub their belly gently or you pat their back while resting them on your shoulder.
- Massage for pooping
At early age, they can’t discharge their waste or urinate by their own. You need to stimulate them before or after feeding. Use warm damp towel, cotton ball or washcloth and rub around their genital and anus area until they eliminate. Sometimes accidents happen and you might consider to wear an apron and gloves.
Pups start to wean off milk when they reach 3 or 4 weeks old. It’s time to learn eating properly. You can mix puppy food with milk substitute to be soft enough for them to swallow. Feed into their mouth by putting it onto your clean finger. They will automatically eat it. Gradually increase the solidness of the food until they can eat solid food only at 6 weeks old.
4. Health monitoring
Newborn puppies which don’t have mothers are at high risk in developing infectious disease such as distemper and parvovirus. If they have the mother’s colostrum they will have high immune system for these disease. Therefore, vaccines are very important for these newborns.
Other than that, there are some commons problem occurred for the young puppies. They are:
Puppies usually get the warmth from swaddling with their siblings and from their mother’s body heat. If they are not in this situation, you must create a warm environment to avoid hypothermia happening to them. As they don’t produce their own body heat, they might lose heat and feel cold quickly. If you see them shivering or the skin is cold when you touch them, warm them up by holding them close to get your body heat. Don’t rush to make them warm as it might lead them to shock.
- Hypoglycemia / low blood sugar
This might happen as they are not nursed by their own mother. They will be weak, limp or cold. They show bluish gums or twitching muscle. Hurry bring them to the vet to be administered with dextrose.
Feeding regularly and humidify the room will prevent dehydration to the puppies. You should bring the puppy to the vet if they are in severe dehydration which is shown by losing the skin elasticity.
Another thing which is important is to start deworming by the age of 2 weeks. Your vet can inform you the next schedule for other shots. Sometimes oral medicine is needed too.
Hereby with these 4 important tips to take care of a puppy without its mother, you should be ready to take care of your puppy. You will feel content to see the healthy and playful puppy as you nurture them very good.